“At the Fairmont” by Peter Orner

Faculty member Peter Orner’s story, “At the Fairmont,” appears on Electric Literature’s Recommended Reading:

After the war they met in San Francisco. She waited for him at a hotel on Nob Hill for five days before she got word that his ship had arrived. It is those five days she thinks of now, not the reunion itself. She thinks of the park across the street from a cathedral and the hours she spent sitting with her hands in her lap. It was April and cool and she sat there coatless, not waiting, her mind drained, enjoying it, the days away from the children who’d remained in Chicago with her mother. Men, older men, spoke to her and she didn’t discourage them. They talked about the weather. It was nice to talk about something and not care a lick about it. She can’t remember another time in her life, even during blizzards, when she ever had much to say about the weather, and yet there she was on a bench, in the chill wind, goosebumps on her bare arms, cheerfully saying things like, “Who would have imagined it would be so cold in California and here I am with no coat. My girlfriend Gloria warned me, but I didn’t believe her!” Words flung out her mouth like tiny birds in every direction, that’s how good it felt just to say whatever nonsense came into her head. Because the words themselves meant nothing. It was only the thrill of talking to strangers, men, old men in tweed and scarves, in an unfamiliar place.

Continue reading online at Electric Literature.


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